'Silver market' put off by hotel single supplement


THE SUPPLEMENT charged by many hotels for single rooms is a disincentive for the lucrative “silver market” at a time when the retired population is growing, the tourism industry has been told.

Active Retirement Ireland has urged the industry to do more to attract retirees, many of whom take from three to five short breaks a year.

Maureen Kavanagh, chief executive of the group, said its members already accounted for an estimated 100,000 bed nights a year and stressed there was “a silver lining” for the hard-pressed industry.

“As our tourism industry struggles to come to terms with the recession, it can take some comfort in the fact that the ‘silver market’ is very committed to holidaying at home,” Ms Kavanagh said yesterday.

However, many retired people had lost their life partners or liked to travel alone, so were not in a position to share a bedroom while on holiday.

“The imposition of single supplements by some hotels is something which can inhibit people from taking a short break, especially as they are counting their cash and trying to be as economical as possible in their spending.”

She said the industry should be aware that as well as value for money, older people expected good disability access and organised activities and entertainment when they booked a break.

“As Ireland’s retired population grows and becomes more active, it is important that our tourism industry takes stock and reflects on the needs of this market.”

At the annual general meeting of Active Retirement in Donegal yesterday, Ms Kavanagh said most of its 22,000 members took at least three organised breaks every year. The short breaks the group organised for its members not only boosted hotel guest numbers but created business for a range of ancillary services through festivals, events and coach tours to heritage sites, sporting events and arts activities.

For many members, the short breaks organised by their local active-retirement association would be their only opportunity to have a holiday. “This is of vital importance to the mental health of people who live alone.”